Sectional tennis: Dayton Christian’s Hodge advances

At 5-foot-10 and 135 pounds, Dayton Christian senior Paul Hodge wasn’t exactly in his element on the football field last fall, but he is right at home on the tennis court.

The multi-sport athlete — he also ran cross-country — battled to a 7-6(2), 6-2 win over Valley View sophomore Justin DeVilbiss in the quarterfinals of the Division II sectional tennis tournament Thursday at Five Seasons Sports Club.

“I really enjoy the feeling of being on the court, especially in singles,” Hodge said. “Every shot is yours, it’s your chance to do something. And if you make a mistake, you have no one to blame but yourself.”

Mistakes were few and far between Thursday as the No. 4 seed posted three straight-set wins to become the third Dayton Christian player ever to advance to the district tournament. He will play where he has watched so many of his favorite pros over the years — the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.

“I didn’t realize until today that I get to play here,” he said with a smile. “I’m pumped.”

Tennis is a family affair for Hodge. His parents, high school sweethearts in western Pennsylvania, played doubles together when his mom competed on the boys’ team. While Mom and Dad had plenty to cheer about Thursday, Hodge, 19, isn’t ready to celebrate just yet. He will face top seed and defending state qualifier Colton Morehart of Miami Valley School in the semifinals Saturday.

“I will have to have the game of my life,” Hodge said.

History made: Preble Shawnee freshman Pierce Elliott served and volleyed his way into the Arrows' record book Thursday. Elliott. 15, became the first Preble Shawnee singles player to advance to the district tournament after blanking Eaton junior Breven Perry, 6-0, 6-0, in the sectional quarterfinals Thursday.

While the top four sectional placers are guaranteed a district berth, the Arrows’ No. 1 singles player knows he still has work to do with two critical matches Saturday.

“I’m pretty excited — especially to play at the ATP Tennis Center — but seeding, that’s the important thing,” he said.

Rolling on: Morehart rolled through the first three rounds of the sectional tournament dropping a single game (6-0, 6-1), (6-0, 6-0), (6-0, 6-0). The junior was the only player who wrapped up his quarterfinal match before play moved from Centerville High School to Five Seasons because of rain.

His teammates fared just as well in doubles play as top-seeded Makul Sharma and Niyanth Reddy also advanced to the semifinals with three straight-set wins.

Troy sectional: The seeded singles players all advanced to the semifinals at the Troy Division I sectional tournament. Troy teammates Shane Essick and Elijah Sadler, the first and fourth seeds, respectively, will face off on Saturday. Second-seeded Mitchell Foland of Tecumseh will play third-seeded Sidney freshman Prem Dev in other semifinal action.

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